Mini Med School blasts off

Mini Med ISS the 2015 “Mini Med School” session, a popular public lecture series hosted by Des Moines University, kicked off with a surprise message to attendees straight from the International Space Station.

Dr. J.D. Polk, dean of DMU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, has an ‘in’ with astronauts that inspired this year’s ‘Health Trek’ theme. Polk’s career has included work as Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Chief of Space Medicine for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Johnson Space Center, and it’s clear that his passion for the mission remains strong.

Polk delivered the first presentation of the session: “Outer space and its impact on the human body.” The talk touched on a number of physiological changes and challenges astronauts experience in zero gravity conditions, and tied back to the lessons space medicine can provide to improve lives on earth. Polk highlighted NASA-inspired innovations that serve humanity more broadly, and the value of space exploration on pioneering medical breakthroughs.

Attendees gathered for a group photo to send back to astronaut Barry E. “Butch” Wilmore as a thank-you for his welcome message.

Attendees at the 2015 Mini Med School kick-off session gather for a group photo
Attendees at the 2015 Mini Med School kick-off session gather for a group photo

The five-week Mini Med School experience runs Tuesday evenings 7-9 p.m. through March 10, and the public is welcome to register at any point, including in-person the evening of an event. To learn more visit

All sessions are held in the Des Moines University Student Education Center (SEC)
3300 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50312.
Campus map and directions

February 10 – Outer space and its impact on the human body
Presenter: Dr. JD Polk, Dean of the DMU College of Osteopathic Medicine

February 17 – Survival of the species: Exploring Ebola and other potential pandemics
Presenter: Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, Iowa Dept. of Public Health Medical Director and State Epidemiologist

February 24 – Outta this world longevity: Keys for aging well
Presenter: Dr. Yogi Shah and Dr. Robert Bender Jr., medical director and geriatrician at the Healthy Aging and Memory Clinic

March 3 – Sci-fi science, truth and fiction
Presenter: Dr. Gary Hoff, DMU Associate Professor Behavioral Medicine, Medical Humanities and Bioethics

March 10 – Health and tech: Leaps and bounds in tracking, diagnosing and monitoring our wellness
Presenter: Paul Greenwood, gooi health

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